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Acta Trop. 2011 Aug;119(2-3):144-50. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2011.05.005. Epub 2011 May 19.

TLRs innate immunereceptors and Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) CIDR1α-driven human polyclonal B-cell activation.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, University of Bari Medical School, Policlinico of Bari, Italy.


Chronic malaria severely affects the immune system and causes polyclonal B-cell activation, as evidenced by the presence of hypergammaglobulinemia, elevated levels of autoantibodies, loss of B-cell memory and the frequent occurrence of Burkitt's lymphomas (BL) in children living in malaria endemic areas. Previous studies have shown that the cysteine-rich interdomain region 1α (CIDR1α) of the Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) of the FCR3S1.2 strain, subsequently named CIDR1α, interacts with B cells partially through the binding to the B-cell receptor (BCR). This interaction leads to an activated phenotype, increased survival, and a low degree of proliferation. CIDR1α preferentially activates the memory B-cell compartment, therefore PfEMP1 is considered to act as a polyclonal B-cell activator and its role in memory maintenance has been suggested. In this report, we extend the analysis of the PfEMP1-CIDR1α B-cell interaction and demonstrate that PfEMP1-CIDR1α increases the expression of TLR7 and TLR10 mRNA transcripts and sensitizes B cells to TLR9 signalling via the MyD88 adaptor molecule. Furthermore, despite its ability to bind to surface Igs, PfEMP1-CIDR1α-induced B-cell activation does not seem to proceed through the BCR, since it does not induce Lyn and/or phospho-tyrosine mediated signalling pathways. Rather PfEMP1-CIDR1α induces the phosphorylation of downstream kinases, such as ERK1/2, p38 and IKBα, in human B cells. These findings indicate that PfEMP1-CIDR1α induces a persistent activation of B cells, which in turn can contribute to the exhaustion and impairment of B-cell functions during chronic malaria infection.

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